Things Get Crazy When The Sun Goes Down: Ethics Procedure Changes You Need to Know About

Among the first and most sweeping changes called for by the Texas Sunset Legislation is the revision of and additions to the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure. Proposed changes were drafted by the office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel (CDC) and sent to the Texas Bar membership last week for review and comment. You have only until February 8, 2018 to offer your opinions, so now is the time to read and understand the proposal. Read the proposed rules and comment to the State Bar here.

Most of the changes are intended to increase efficiency and fairness. Laudable goals, but there are problems. The most obvious is found in the new “Investigatory Hearings” procedure, and there is an issue with the new sanction guidelines that the disciplinary panels must follow.

So what is an Investigatory Hearing?

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#KeepItToYourself #LawyersAreDifferent

Yesterday’s headline in the Texas Lawyer read: “Hot Public Opinions Cost Two Paxton Aides Dearly”.

The attorneys it refers to both worked for Ken Paxton (the Texas Attorney General) and both made statements that became public and that were, by any reasonable standard, extremely offensive. The article reports the following:

-Jeff Mateer said he believes transgender children are part of “Satan’s Plan.”

This cost Mateer his nomination for a federal judgeship, but not his job at the AG’s office as Ken Paxton’s right-hand man. According to the Texas Lawyer, Attorney General Paxton says that Mateer continues to have his full support.

-Andrew Leonie wrote a Facebook post complaining that women who report harassment or abuse using the hashtag #metoo are “pathetic.” (more…)

Ain’t Nothing But A Family Thing.

Politics are everywhere and the Texas State Bar is not immune.

Membership in the Texas State Bar has been statutorily mandated since 1939 for those practicing law in Texas, and the Bar now boasts the second largest number of active attorney members in the country.

If you are a member of the Texas State Bar you probably received an email before Thanksgiving containing the incoming (2018) State Bar President’s message. I did. You may have noticed the explanation at the top as to why this message did not come from the State Bar of Texas. Apparently, the Bar refused to send the incoming president’s message to its members and so in order to communicate with us, the president-elect had his message sent by an independent group called the “Texas Lawyers for Reform.” This group claims to support bar reform in Texas and also asked in that email for a donation to support their cause.

The Emails are going to keep coming. (more…)

Keeping Client Confidences. It’s a thing.

There they were, the President’s lawyers, sitting outside at a café having lunch and engaging in a substantive discussion about the President’s current legal problems.

What could go wrong?

Sunday’s Headline in The New York Times about internal squabbles between the President’s lawyers resulted not from an interview or leaked information—but as a result of the lawyers discussing the President’s legal matters over lunch at a sidewalk café, a discussion loud enough for a nearby reporter and certainly the wait staff and many others to hear.

Was it a violation against the Rule against disclosing “confidential information”? (more…)